How one busy college girl got into a gym routine—and stuck to it

I'm a firm believer in the saying that "The hardest part about going to the gym is actually getting there." 

For many years, my New Year's resolution has been something along the lines of "Get healthy, stay active, be fit." The only issue? I had absolutely no plans or motivational strategies to achieve any of these things. Until now. 

This fall, I made the *best* decision. I decided that since I'm no longer dining on sodium-filled college caf food, it was time to start cooking for myself. Meaning, I would be responsible for buying and selecting all of my own food. 

To give some context, my previous semester of college had *seriously* taken a toll on my physical health. I felt lethargic 24/7 and I was not taking care of my body (think: multiple Dunkin' Donuts sugary drinks per week. Yuck.) I probably saw the inside of the gym about once in those four months, so I spent the summer getting back into shape. However, it wasn't until recently that I began thinking about the true impact of my eating choices and my workout routines.  

Once I began selecting more nutritious foods and cooking for myself, I began to notice how much better I was feeling. I was no longer exhausted every waking minute of the day and could actually get out of bed when my alarm went off. To top it off, my bloating had disappeared. I was feeling great, but I knew I could feel even better. That's when I began hitting the gym on a regular basis. 

Getting into a routine when you've been inactive for a while takes a *lot* of grit and tenacity, don't get me wrong. On my first day at the gym, I tried using the Stairmaster and was out of breath after 5 minutes. Instead of giving up, I decided to set small goals for myself. Today, I would do the stairs for 5 minutes and climb 15 flights. Tomorrow, I would do the stairs for 10 minutes and climb 30. 

Not only did these intervals help my body adjust to an exercise routine, but they also helped me to keep going back to the gym. I began looking at it this way: I'm going to the gym every day because I made a commitment to myself to do so. Continually failing to follow through on that wouldn't be right. I began to treat my commitments as promises I would make to my friends. Backing out on these commitments felt like breaking a promise over and over again to my best friend—something I would never want to do. 

Don't get me wrong, it can still be hard to get to the gym some days. There are times when I want to say "forget it" and leave, but I don't. What keeps me going is the indisputable truth that I've waved goodbye to my gym-hating, excess-calorie-consuming days and have never felt healthier—mentally and physically. It's also worth noting that the gym is a fantastic place to have your Netflix binges. I rewatched nearly half of Friends over winter break and felt *way* less guilt than if I were to do that sitting on a couch at home.

My advice to those wanting to get into a workout routine that sticks? Start small and build up to where you want to be. No one expects you to walk into a gym and start running like Usain Bolt on the treadmill. Much like habits, routines take time to build up. Or, if you're an aspiring type A person like me, try scheduling gym time into your Google calendar or planner—that way, you'll get a constant reminder that you need to be somewhere. Above all, remember the euphoric, ready-to-conquer-life feeling you get after a workout. You got this, girl!

How do *you* stay focused on your health and fitness goals? Share in the comments!


by Emily Fishel | 2/9/2019